Hundred-Year-Old Mint Syrup Recipe

I love fine coffee – and I hate to admit it, but I like it even better when I add a little flavored coffee syrup. I often feel guilty. Many commercial coffee syrups contain corn syrup and have lots of artificial ingredients.

I no longer need to feel guilty. I found a recipe for the perfect Mint Syrup in the place I would have least expected – in a hundred-year-magazine.   It’s made with fresh mint leaves and there’s not a bit of corn syrup in it (though there is lots of sugar, so maybe I should continue to feel just a bit guilty). This simple syrup highlights the bright, complex nuanced flavor of  the mint, and is wonderful in coffee and other beverages and foods.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

And here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Mint Syrup

  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup mint leaves

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan; then add the mint leaves. Bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the liquid begins to thicken to a syrup consistency (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat; strain and cool.

Hundred-year-old Tomato and Cucumber Salad Recipe

I love all the fresh summer produce at the farmer’s market. Two of my favorites are tomatoes and cucumbers, so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Tomato and Cumber Salad I knew that I had to give it a try.

The salad  was delightful, and had a light vinaigrette dressing that enhanced the sliced vegetables.

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

When I made this recipe, I halved it and I still had more dressing than I needed. Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Tomato and Cucumber Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 large cucumber

2 tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons apply cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 tablespoon onion, grated

Slice the tomatoes, and pare the cucumbers with a regular knife and then slice (using a fluted knife if desired). Arrange the sliced cucumbers and tomatoes in a serving dish. Set aside.

To make the dressing, put the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and grated onion in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and then pour the desired amount over the tomatoes and onions.

Extra dressing may be refrigerated and kept for several days.

My fluted cucumbers didn’t look like the ones in the old photo. Maybe they used a different type of knife.

Hundred-year-old Porcupine Salad Recipe

I have warm memories of making Raggedy Ann Salad and other character-shaped salads using canned fruits when I was a child, so I was thrilled to see a recipe for Porcupine Salad in a hundred-year-old cookbook.

Porcupine Salad was fun and easy to make, and it turned out beautifully. Almond slices are inserted into a canned pear half, and whole cloves are used to make the eyes.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilia Frich (1917)

When I made the recipe I didn’t serve it on a lettuce leaf, and  I skipped the fruit salad dressing, but they could be added if desired. I found this recipe in the same cookbook that contained the Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey that I made last week, so that dressing could be used to replicate the original recipe’s serving suggestion.

Porcupine Salad

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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For each serving:

1 canned pear half

sliced almonds

2 whole cloves

Insert the almond slices into the larger part of the pear half, then stick the two cloves into the small end for the eyes.

Old-Fashioned Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey

Refreshing fruit salads are one of my go-to foods on hot summer days, so when I saw a recipe for Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey in a hundred-year-old cookbook I knew that I had to give it a try.

The whipped dressing, made with real cream, honey, and vinegar, was tart – but a perfect fruit topping. The tangy-sweetness of this  light, airy whipped cream dressing perks up the fruit, and can turn a generic mixture of fruits into a special fruit salad.  When I made this recipe, I asked people to guess what ingredient gave the dressing its tang.  They guessed that it contained  sour cream or even a little yogurt – and didn’t think of vinegar.

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilia Frich (1917)

I couldn’t tell from the recipe whether the Fruit Salad Dressing was supposed to be spooned on top of the fruit or stirred into the fruit, so I made it both ways. The two presentations were very different – but the Fruit Salad was delicious both ways.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fruit Salad Dressing Made with Honey

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 egg yolks

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups  heavy whipping cream

Beat egg yolks, then stir in the honey, vinegar, and salt. Place in a saucepan, and cook using medium heat while stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and continue cooking for 1 minute. Remove from heat and chill in refrigerator.

When ready to serve,  beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form and then stir in the chilled egg mixture.

May be served as a fruit topping or stirred into a fruit mixture (grapes, cherry halves, cubed peaches or apricots, strawberries, etc. work well).

Cook’s note: This recipe makes a lot of dressing. I used the dressing on two consecutive days. On the first day, I whipped 1/2 cup of cream and stirred the egg mixture in to taste. The second day I whipped the remainder of the cream and stirred in the remaining dressing.

Old-time Spinach Omelet Recipe

I recently saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Spinach Omelet, and decided to give it a try. A homemade omelet makes breakfast special.

Often omelets are a little greasy and heavy, but Spinach Omelet is light and fluffy. The recipe calls for beating egg whites into stiff peaks, and then folding the remainder of the ingredients into them.  This omelet has a delicate spinach flavor – and is less savory that the typical modern omelet that also contains onions, bacon, or cheese – but is delightful.

Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1917)

And here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Spinach Omelet

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup cooked spinach (approximately 4 cups fresh spinach)

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/3 teaspoon salt

dash of pepper

1/2 cup cream (I used half and half.)

4 eggs, separated

If using fresh spinach, rinse the spinach and put into a sauce pan. Do not add any additional water; the water clinging to the spinach leaves will be enough. Using medium heat, cook until the spinach is wilted (approximately 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Cool slightly, then coarsely  chop cooked spinach; set aside.

Using medium-low heat, melt the butter in a sauce pan; then stir in the flour, salt,  and pepper. While continuing to stir constantly, slowly add the cream. Increase heat to medium, and stir until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat.  Beat egg yolks, then quickly stir into the white sauce.  Add cooked spinach, and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. (Be sure that the beaters are clean and dry – otherwise the egg whites might not stiffen and form peaks.) Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Then cook omelet either on the stove top or in the oven.

Stove top method: Pour into a prepared omelet pan. (If needed grease to prevent sticking.) Cover and cook using low heat for about 12 minutes or until the is set. Fold omelet, and slip onto a plate. Serve immediately.

Oven method:  Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Heat a large oven-proof skillet on the top of the stove using medium-low heat. (If needed to prevent sticking, liberally grease the skillet before heating.) Pour the egg and  spinach mixture into the hot skillet, and gently cook for 1 minute. Move the skillet to the oven, and bake for about 12 minutes or until the egg mixture is set. Remove from oven, and loosen the edges of the omelet from the skillet with a knife or spatula, then turn onto a plate; fold into half. Serve immediately.

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Old-fashioned Rice Muffins

Old home economics textbooks are chock full of tasty and quick recipes (that can be prepared and eaten within a class period). I recently flipped though a 1915 textbook and noticed a recipe for Rice Muffins. My first thought was – Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this recipe was gluten-free?

But no, it was not gluten-free. . . sigh. . .  This recipe calls for a combination of flour and rice.

In spite of my disappointment, I was still intrigued enough by the recipe to give it a try.

The Rice Muffins were yummy with just the right amount of sweetness. They were very similar to a basic flour muffin, but the rice added interest by providing a bit more texture and chewiness. They are best when eaten the day they are baked.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source A Textbook of Cooking (Carlotta C. Greer, 1915)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rice Muffins

  • Servings: approximately 12 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/2 cups flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, beaten

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup rice

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, stir the egg, milk, rice, and butter together. Add the flour mixture, and stir just enough to combine. Grease muffin tins, and then fill each muffin cup 3/4th  full with batter. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Hundred-Year-Old Chicken and Ham Turnovers Recipe

Both a century ago and now, cooks have asked the question, “What should I do with the leftovers?”

I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for Chicken and Ham Turnovers that is a wonderful way to use leftovers. The turnovers were yummy and easy to make, and the accompanying sauce added just the right amount of zing.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

Since the recipe indicates that a “”buttercup biscuit” or a “rich biscuit dough in which the yolk of an egg is used,”  I searched for a hundred-year-old buttercup biscuit recipe. I failed to find one, so I went with a biscuit recipe I found and added an egg yolk (and reduced the milk a little to compensate). Here’s the old biscuit recipe:

Source: Larking Housewives Cook Book (1917)

When I made this dish, it seemed a tad salty so when I updated the recipe for modern cooks, I reduced the salt. Here’s the updated recipe:

Chicken and Ham Turnovers

  • Servings: 2-3 servings
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Filling

1 cup cooked chicken, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

1/3 cup cooked ham, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

Biscuit Pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons shortening or lard

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg yolk

1/2 – 2/3 cup milk

Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon ketchup

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine diced chicken and ham in a bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Cut in the shortening and butter using a pastry blender or two knives going in opposite directions.  Stir in egg yolk and 1/2 cup milk. The dough should cling together and be of a consistency that it can be rolled. If needed, add additional milk. On a prepared surface, roll the dough out and cut into rounds approximately 5 inches in diameter. (I used an inverted cereal bowl to cut the rounds.)  Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture on one side of each round, brush water on the edge of round, fold over and press edges together. Put on rounds on a baking sheet, and brush with milk. Put in oven and bake until the top is lightly browned (about 20 minutes). Remove from oven and serve with sauce.

While the turnovers are baking, make the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan; stir in the flour and pepper. Add the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, then  slowly add the chicken broth while stirring continuously. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.